Migos, “Culture II” (Motown/Capitol)
Even huge fans of Migos’ breakthrough smash “Culture” last year have to admit they didn’t want a nearly two-hour follow-up. They don’t call these double albums anymore, but even these innovators of the current standard signature flow in hip-hop can’t quite do what they do as successfully without judicious editing.
Loaded with catchphrases and ad-libs galore, lush but rarely irresistible production, and endless hooks that do grow interchangeable and wearing after a while, “Culture II” botches its own chance at being a strong follow-up by never once justifying its length.
It does have peaks: the lovely opening “Higher We Go,” the humorously effacing “Too Much Jewelry,” the surprisingly saxophone-driven “Too Playa.” But sometimes the song-after-song effect is so homogeneous that you can’t tell those from the valleys.
DAN WEISS, Philadelphia Inquirer
Dream Wife, “Dream Wife” (Lucky Number)
Dream Wife’s name is commentary about society’s objectification of women, OK? And the British all-female punk trio’s self-titled disc is a raucous, powerful protest about gender roles and inequality. The album opens with Rakel Mjöll wailing, “Let’s make out!” You can almost hear her patience waning as guitarist Alice Go rolls out roaring riffs and bassist Bella Podpadec keeps a groovy beat.
But “Dream Wife” only gets more wondrous from there. There’s an element of ’50s innocence in the hand claps and cooing backing vocals that begin “Hey Heartbreaker,” then Mjöll starts taunting the object of her initial affection.
That’s not to say that “Dream Wife” doesn’t have its moments of sweetness. The gorgeous “Love Without Reason” feels like a pretty chant. The lovely “Kids” bubbles with the joys of young love.
“Dream Wife” is a career-making triumph, as bold as Mjöll’s exertion of unflinching control throughout her lyrics, and the first undeniable breakout performance of 2018.
GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday
Rhye, “Blood” (Loma Vista)
“Woman,” Rhye’s 2013 debut, was single-minded in its focus on seductive slow jams full of erotic longing. Michael Milosh sang in an androgynous alto and collaborated with Danish producer Robin Hannibal on arrangements that blended smooth jazz, gentle R&B and crooning soft rock. Milosh helmed the long-awaited second album, “Blood,” and it’s slightly sharper, but no less seductive. There’s a little less Sade, a little more xx.
The songs loosely trace the dissolution of one relationship and the beginning of another. “Please” floats on a patient trip-hop beat and some soul-jazz piano. “Count to Five” has a funk-disco groove. Unifying it all is Milosh’s gentle, pillow talk voice, full of earnest restraint. Where “Woman” focused on the bedroom, “Blood” focuses on the clubs — and the bedroom.
Steve Klinge, Philadelphia Inquirer
• Franz Ferdinand, “Always Ascending”
• MGMT, “Little Dark Age”
• David Duchovny, “Every Third Thought”
• Dashboard Confessional, “Crooked Shadows”
• Brian Fallon, “Sleepwalkers”